At the start of
another season of college hoop-ee, you can count on the following things. With
the dunk back, along about the first week some dude will soar so high he will
stick in the scoreboard like a quivering dart. Shortly thereafter, Indiana will
have to hire a designated seamstress to mend the jerseys Bobby Knight tears off
his players. An NCAA investigator disguised as a keno runner will climb out of
a Las Vegas air-conditioning duct. Bernard King's car will be arrested for
contributing to the delinquency of a basketball player. And the Legal Aid
Society, the ACLU or Baretta will file, issue and append 1,634 injunctions,
restraining orders and subclauses. This is a game of the courts as well as by
the courts and on the courts.
The main thing is
that the dunk has been rehabilitated after doing a nine-year term for being an
illegal weapon. Be showtime. Also, Richard Washington of UCLA and Adrian
Dantley of Notre Dame are gone, having taken one of the last trains from
Hardship Junction. Be missed. And while Gerald Ford is on his way out, his alma
mater certainly won't need a presidential pardon. Michigan be ready. Finally,
the NCAA has done it again. It held last year's tournament in Philadelphia for
the Bicentennial and it installed this year's at the Omni in Atlanta for Jiminy
is the defending champion, the Hoosiers lost four starters to the pro ranks,
and it would have been five had not Kent Benson shrugged the money-changers off
his broad back. Now someone will have to devise a way to get the opposition off
the big redhead's shoulders as the pigeons of years past come home to
favored to win the national title after a year in which it was all-runner-up—in
the NCAA, in the Big Ten, even in a holiday tournament in Las Vegas. But the
Wolverines return with a cast that includes Rickey Green, who threw his name
into the hardship hat, then pulled it out; Phil Hubbard, an Olympian; and
rugged Steve Grote, who could use his nose as a diamond cutter.
past, however, there is no overwhelming favorite. Any of 10 teams could win the
title. In fact your name is Jeanne Dixon if you can pick the winners of more
than three conference races, plus the number of teams that will be in the Metro
Six—uh, Seven—next year.
Conference race seems particularly close. Auburn, Mississippi State and Georgia
each have four starters returning, but they all figure to trail Tennessee and
Alabama, who in turn should follow Kentucky.
Marquette will be making its 11th straight trip to postseason play, Nevada, Las
Vegas is the class of the independents and a threat to be the first
non-conference school to win the title since Texas Western did it in 1966, even
though senior Jackie Robinson recently hurt his ankle and is out for the year.
Vegas will benefit from the new dunk rule as much as anyone: every one of the
Rebels can throw it down. Of course, with the NCAA currently investigating the
university, the Deposition Five may have to win its national title in the polls
instead of in the Omni.
favored in the Southwest Conference for the first time in 30 years; the Yankee
Conference is no more; the Missouri Valley Conference loses its first name; and
New Mexico will have a team. Last year the Lobos demanded that Coach Norm
Ellenberger resign. When he didn't, they did, and Ellenberger recruited almost
an entire new squad.
known as the City of Brotherly Love, and Villanova agrees. It has three
brothers on its team, Reggie, Keith and Larry Herron. One player who never
seems to be anywhere long is Sam (the Migrant) Drummer, who was reported at or
in the vicinity of Indiana, Gardner-Webb and Austin Peay before his freshman
year. Now Drummer has transferred from Austin Peay to Georgia's DeKalb (South)
Community College, where he is still studying road maps and figuring how to get
to Georgia Tech.
For teams missing
in action, consider Long Beach State, Seattle and Mississippi State. Ignored in
most polls, each of the clubs could be a surprise. Seattle has 7' frosh Jawann
Oldham, while Mississippi State might have the best new big man in the country
in Ricky Brown.